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Assembling Ethnicities in Neoliberal Times: Ethnographic Fictions and Sri Lanka's War

Assembling Ethnicities in Neoliberal Times: Ethnographic Fictions and Sri Lanka's War

Assembling Ethnicities in Neoliberal Times: Ethnographic Fictions and Sri Lanka's War

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ISBN : 978-624-5529-04-9
Author : Nimanthi Perera-Rajasingam
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About the Author TEXT

Nimanthi Perera-Rajasingham is an associate professor of English and Women's Studies at Colgate University.


Assembling Ethnicities in Neoliberal Times interprets contemporary fictions to unpack neoliberalism's entanglements with nationalism and racism during Sri Lanka's war. Perera-Rajasingham does so by theorizing ethnographic fictions, a form that has both internalized certain colonial Orientalist impulses and critically engages with categories of objective gazing, empiricism, and temporal distancing. The book explores colonial-era travel writing by Robert Knox (1681) and Leonard Woolf (1913); contemporary works by Michael Ondaatje, Romesh Gunesekera, Shobasakthi, Dharmasiri Bandaranayake, and Thamotharampillai Shanaathanan; and cultural festivals and theater, including vernacular performances of Euripides's The Trojan Women and women workers' theater.

Assembling Ethnicities in Neoliberal Times brilliantly analyzes various ethnographic fictions and state-produced narratives to show how the Sri Lankan state and the LTTE, through neoliberal policies and internationally funded and oriented structures, created and maintained ethnic divisions between Sinhalese and Tamil people to justify war. The book could be useful to scholars studying such varying topics as South Asian politics, postcolonial capitalism, South Asian literature, and ethnographic methodology.  ~ Si Sindu, author of Blue Skinned Gods


Arguing for analyses beyond singular paradigms such as majoritarianism, ethno-nationalism and ethno-racism, Nimanthi Perera-Rajasingham views Sri Lanka's ethnic and religious identities—especially how they undergird war and virulent nationalisms—through the lenses of assemblage and neoliberalism. Perera-Rajasingham deftly draws upon a range of archives, literatures, films, documentaries, and visual and theoretical material to construct a theoretical apparatus and methodology that are nuanced, sophisticated and informed by a strong grasp of existing scholarship. ~ Manav Ratti, author of The Postsecular Imagination: Postcolonialism, Religion, and Literature

Perera-Rajasingham's book is poised to make a contribution to a growing subfield of studies on neoliberalism. It will also expand the field of postcolonial studies, specifically Sri Lankan Studies, by including analyses of non-Anglophone literature and juxtaposing literary and performative works with festivals, monuments, and art. ~ Maryse Jayasuriya, author of Terror and Reconciliation: Sri Lankan Anglophone Literature, 1983-2009